A Caterpillar Expo Twenty Tractor built in 1927 was displayed at this year’s CONEXPO-CON/AGG.

This tractor has the distinction of being the first machine wholly designed and built by what was once called Caterpillar Tractor Co. Prior to producing the Expo Twenty, Caterpillar had been manufacturing track-type tractors using the assets and designs of its two predecessor companies, the C.L. Best Tractor Co. and The Holt Manufacturing Company. But when this unit rolled off the assembly line, it received an all-new serial number, EXP 0000-L, and earned a place in company history.

Its designation as an “EXP” or “expo” machine suggests it was either built for a special occasion or used by Cat dealers as a marketing tool at county and state fairs or other local events. The “L” in the serial number indicates it was manufactured in San Leandro, Calif.

The Expo Twenty, like the company that designed and built it, has a long, interesting history. After serving as a display machine, it was painted yellow and put to work on the Traynham family ranch in California. The Traynhams are direct descendants of C.L. Best, one of the founders and the first chairman of Caterpillar Tractor Co.

Decades later, the machine was sold to the Veerkamp family of Placerville, Calif. Collectors of antique tractors, the Veerkamps began the process of restoring the Expo Twenty in 2007. As they researched the machine, the owners discovered that the inaugural tractor had not been painted with the standard gray and red color scheme, which was typical of Cat products built in the late 1920s. Instead, it had received a unique white paint job featuring black trim with brass- and nickel-plated accents. The Veerkamps not only returned the tractor to its original appearance, but also restored its original purpose. Having come full circle from its days as a show machine, the Expo Twenty is back in the public eye, displayed at antique machine shows throughout the United States where it tells the story of a brand that has endured for generations.

“Exhibiting a special machine like the Expo Twenty helps people understand and appreciate the historic role Caterpillar equipment played in shaping our world,” says Tricia Potts, executive director of the Antique Caterpillar Machinery Owners Club (ACMOC). Founded in the early 1990s and based in Peoria, Ill., ACMOC promotes the collection, preservation, restoration, display and study of products and memorabilia of Caterpillar and its related predecessors.

Key Specifications – Caterpillar Twenty
(1927 production version)

Engine: 4-cylinder, 4-cycle, Water-cooled, valve in-head
Rating @ 1,100 rpm: 20 hp (15 kW)
Weight: 7,500 lbs (3 400 kg)
Length: 9’7” (2921 mm)
Width: 5’1” (1550 mm)
Height: 5’½” (1537 mm)
Track shoe width: 11” (279 mm)
Standard Gauge: 42” (1067 mm)
Wide Gauge: 55” (1397 mm)
Transmission: 3 forward, 1 reverse
Max speed: 4.7 mph (7.5 kph)

Reader Comments

Louis Bordon
  • I’m not a collector by any means but I wouldn’t mind having a piece of history like that in my garage.

Michael
  • It looks like it could still help you get some work done around the farm.

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